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Interview: BJ The Chicago Kid Discusses 'In My Mind,' His Personal Style and More

BJ The Chicago Kid talks to VIBE about his Motown debut. 

On his way to the top of the charts, BJ The Chicago Kid’s newly released album In My Mind is officially in-stores now. The Windy City crooner's traditional take on Soul/R&B combined with the modern flavor he brings is enough to take us back to a musical era that is yearned for across the board from fans. With features from Kendrick Lamar, Chance The Rapper, BIG K.R.I.T., and more, this body of work is destined to be remembered as one of 2016's best projects.

The Chicago-bred singer recently teamed up with Footaction to host a private listening session at Noble New York on February 25, 2016 where the New York City's tastemakers and influencers could heard the album from beginning to end. Dressed in a comfortable Nike Tech Fleece crew shirt, Woven pants, and a clean pair of Air Max 1's, BJ spoke to VIBE about his incredible LP and his love for the Footaction brand.

“The first time Footaction and I ever collaborated, I was a kid,” laughs BJ during his conversation with VIBE. “That’s where I got my school shoes, that’s where I got my kicks when I was actually able to earn my own money, so it was a part of growing up. It is an honor to now have them host my listening party."

BJ sat down with VIBE and openly discussed the composition of the album, the current state of Soul/R&B, his relationship status and more.

VIBE: You just dropped your official Motown debut In My Mind, which by the way is amazing. How has the response been so far?
BJ: I have had nothing but good responses -- thank God! We put our all into this album, and everybody involved in it. We pretty much created it in thirty days, so I slept in the studio for twenty-seven days out of the thirty (laughs). I literally put everything I had into this project. I just hoped and prayed that people would feel it , and they do so thank God! We’re all happy!

Talk to us about the features you have on the album. Specifically, Chance The Rapper, Big K.R.I.T., and Kendrick Lamar. How did you link up with them?
I’ve known Chance the rapper for some years now. I met himbefore the world began to know who he was… so I was able to understand Chance himself. He’s just an incredible creator outside and inside of music. Because we’re friends -- we don’t force the music. When it’s time we do it, and other times we enjoy the friendship.

Now, BIG K.R.I.T., 9th Wonder introduced us via the internet.

Through Twitter?
Yeah, through twitter! It pretty was incredible we had like two or three songs together before we met face to face. I met K.R.I.T. the first day I joined the “Kritically Acclaimed Tour” tour last year, and he is an incredible brother. The same guy he was online is the same guy he is in person.

Kendrick Lamar, I’ve known him for years, him, Top Dawg, Punch, Jay Rock, Ab Soul, School Boy Q - our relationship was there before the success, and I’m just happy to know them and learn from their success and help them celebrate the success as well.

So it seems like, the music came organically since you had these relationships beforehand.
Yeah, and I honestly I think your gift will always make room for you. So I trust in that and I rock out!

We've heard a lot of references about church and God throughout your career. And this album doesn't stray away from that. How much does your relationship with God influence your music today.
I definitely have a relationship with God for myself, and yes I grew up that way and I choose to keep the relationship that way. It’s real, that’s my balance. Sundays, I was in church and Monday through Friday I was with the knuckleheads having a little fun (laughs).

Now, lets talk about a woman’s worth!
Oh, my...

What inspired the track "Woman's World" -- especially being that your are in such a male dominated industry?
Knowing the truth… knowing that I was birthed from a woman, you were birthed from a woman, we were all birthed from women. Also, understanding that if a man is married, if home ain’t right, he ain’t happy and she ain’t happy. As a man, if you’re married your happiness is with her happiness, if she’s unhappy everything’s messed up. It’s a woman’s world for sure.

A lot of the tracks on the album cater to women, and you have a ton of sexy referenced. Is there a special lady in your life right now who influenced all of this music? Who is giving you all of this ammo?
(Laughs) Hahaha nah, I don’t right now at the moment, but I am a young man and I live, and I learn.

In other words ladies, BJ is single and the album is 'for you'?
It definitely is for you (laughs).

What are your hopes for the new generation of R&B as a whole? A lot of people think the authenticity of it is gone. How do you plan to keep this genre alive?
From myself to Fetty Wap, to Ty Dolla Sign, to Ro James, to Luke James, the list goes on; we’re all singing to hold up the flag of what’s real and people are rocking with it. It’s not as popular as it used to be but that’s why we’re here…to balance out the skill.

How did the collaboration between you and Footaction begin?
The first time me and Footaction ever collaborated, I was a kid (laughs). That’s where I got my school shoes; that’s where I got my kicks when I was actually able to earn my own money, so it was a part of growing up. It is an honor to now have them host my listening party. That’s love.

How does your style influence and contribute to your artistry?
Style is a big part of my life. I used to work in retail before I was an artist, a lot of people didn’t know that. I was so good at selling clothes and shoes and just the lifestyle, that I could tell what size someone was wearing just by looking at them (laughs).

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Freeway Reveals Death Of 20-Year-Old Son, Jihad

Freeway is mourning the death of his beloved son, Jihad Pridgen.

The Philly native shared the devastating news on Instagram on Thursday (Oct. 29). “God knows I try my best to be strong, but this right here is a pain like I never felt,” he captioned a graduation photo of his son. “Please cherish your time and your [loved] ones because we’re not [promised] the next breath. I Pray Allah forgives my son for all of his sins and I pray that Allah grants him the highest level of paradise.”

The Muslim rapper did not go into detail about how his son passed away. In closing, he asked fans to make dua (an Islamic invocation) for his son and family. Jihad, 20, was following in his father’s footsteps in becoming a rapper. He went by the stage name “Snowhadd.”

 

View this post on Instagram

 

God knows I try my best to be strong, but this right here is a pain like I never felt. Please cherish your time and your love ones because we’re not promise the next breath. I Pray Allah forgives my son for all Of his sins and I pray that Allah grants him the highest level of paradise. Ameen 😢 Please make dua for him & my family.

A post shared by Freeway (@phillyfreeway) on Oct 29, 2020 at 3:28am PDT

New’s of Jihad’s death follows the death of the son of fellow State Property member and former Roc-A-Fella rapper, Oschino Vasquez.  “I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy. Devastation at its finest,” the grieving father wrote on Instagram revealing that Freeway attended his son’s funeral last week. “Then I got that bad news. What [are] the chances that [we] both lose our sons. F*ck rap beef that’s fake sh*t. This is real life. I’ve never been depressed before but I [am] now.”

The cause of death is unclear, but according to varying reports, Oschino’s son and his son's pregnant girlfriend may have passed away in a car accident.

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Kenya Barris To Make Directorial Debut With Richard Pryor Biopic

Kenya Barris has signed on to write and direct a forthcoming biopic on Richard Pryor for MGM. The movie studio acquired the film in a heated bidding war, Deadline reports.

The biopic will mark Barris’ directorial debut. In addition to directing and penning the script, the Black-Ish creator will also produce the film through his company, Khalabo Ink Society. Additional producers include Pryor’s widow, Jennifer Lee Pryor, through her Tarnished Angel imprint, and Tory Metzger for Levantine Films.

“The way Pryor did what he did — with truth and specificity that was somehow self-aware and self-deprecating, and said with an unmatched level of vulnerability – that was the power and impact of his work,” Barris said in a statement. “Pryor had a voice that was distinctly his and, in many ways, comedy since then has been derivative of what he created. To me, this is a film about that voice, the journey that shaped it, and what it took for it to come to be.”

There have been several attempts to bring Pryor’s story to the big screen, including in 2016 when The Weinstein Company teamed with Jennifer and Lee Daniels on a script by Oscar-winning screenwriter Bill Condon. Mike Epps was slated to start as the comic legend, and Oprah Winfrey was going to play his grandmother, Eddie Murphy as his father, and Kate Hudson at Jennifer.

Pryor began his comedy career in the early 1960s playing local clubs around New York. By the following decade, Pryor rose up the ranks to become one of the most popular Black comedians in the genre appearing in films like Lady Sings the Blues, The Mack, Uptown Saturday Night, Car Wash, Harlem Nights, and The Wiz. Pryor was also a talented writer and producer (he wrote his stand-up comedy specials as well as other shows such as Sanford & Son, The Richard Pryor Show).

The 65-year-old comedian passed away from Parkinson’s Disease in 2005.

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Beenie Man Speaks Out After Fainting At Mother’s Funeral

Beenie Man broke his silence amid rumors that he was hospitalized after fainting at his mother’s funeral. Footage of the dancehall icon passing out in front of his mother's casket began circulating the web last weekend.

In a heartfelt message posted on social media on Wednesday (Oct. 27), the dancehall star thanked well-wishers, and poured out his grief. “One Sunday, October 25th I laid my Mom to rest. It was by far and still is the most difficult thing I have ever had to do,” he explained. “Leading up to the day of the funeral I was [physically] involved in every aspect of the planning an execution.”

Beenie’s mother, Lilieth Sewell, suffered a stroke in July. Her health began declining after she was released from the hospital.  She passed away in September at age 63.

“I kept telling myself, maybe if it remained active I will be able to function,” Beenie said. “Unfortunately, when it came down to that very last moment, it hit me and hit very hards. This would be the last time I would see my mom. Despite the noise, the singing, the mourning, all I could hear was silence while watching my mom’s body being lowered into the tomb.

“My heart broke and I blacked out for a few minutes,” he continues. “When I revived, I saw my closet friends and family were around me.”

The Grammy winner added that he was not “hospitalized,” but was comforted by friends and family. “Please continue to pray for us as we heal and moved forward.”

Read his full statement below.

pic.twitter.com/frzvivfDse

— Beenie Man (@KingBeenieMan) October 27, 2020

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